Re: URL-Chicago rock-crit link
- --On Monday, December 2, 2002 10:29 PM +0000 Bill Silvers
> For Carl, apologies if previously sent:It had not been, and thank you Bill for a valuable piece covering both the
nature of a local music scene and the role of the music critic in that
scene. There's a lot of grist for discussion in the transcript, but I'd
like to focus on something that New City critic Dave Chamberlaine said:
> Chamberlain: Eventually you just can't listen to another rock record, youThere's some truth to that; one gets sick of the 3,000th Uncle Tupelo
> just can't listen to another hip hop record. [And then] everything that's
> ever been out there will come under your horizon. You will have to learn
> about jazz because suddenly that?s all you want to hear. You will get
> into house music because suddenly you actually get it, and you want to
> know everything about it. Over the course of time, there's so much music
> out there, eventually you'll want to write about it, or you'll just
> become obsessed by it.
clone, but when one is listening to new music constantly as a professional
obligation, does that alter the sensibilities so that it makes
communicating the experience of listening to the music to the reader more
difficult? The critics at the roundtable discuss getting hate mail from
fans who [quoting Greg Kot] "don't like to hear anything negative about the
bands that they like" but dismiss such criticism by saying that those
people don't like to be challenged. I'm not sure that that's entirely
accurate; an alternate explanation is that most people aren't exposed to
3,000 copies of the same damn thing and have less need to find something
that's radically different for the sake of being different to one's own
sensibilities. At what point is there a break in communication between the
critic and his (I use the gendered pronoun because the entire roundtable
was male) readers because their fundamental approach to the subject is
I'd ruminate more on this, but I need to pull some records...
- --- In fearnwhiskey@y..., Carl Abraham Zimring <cz28@a...> wrote:
> At what point is there a break in communication between thesubject is different?
> critic and his readers because their fundamental approach to the
>Oh, at about the point the critic is probably fired--or moves on to another
publication where his sensibilities match the readers better!
Over time, the only answer for ink-stained critical wretches is to stay, as
much as possible, with areas that you care about..were you're a native
speaker...Not everybody CAN write everything-well, and thats just
life....And a certain amount of "this one is yours; it's due Tuesday" (though
you DON'T care about it) will happen anyway, if you're, oh, paying rent and
such via this route--and if it's a "report" not a critique, it doesn't hurt
- --On Tuesday, December 3, 2002 2:40 AM +0000 Barry Mazor
> Over time, the only answer for ink-stained critical wretches is to stay,That's part of what I'm getting at, the assembly-line nature of doing
> as much as possible, with areas that you care about..were you're a
> native speaker...Not everybody CAN write everything-well, and thats just
> life....And a certain amount of "this one is yours; it's due Tuesday"
> (though you DON'T care about it) will happen anyway, if you're, oh,
> paying rent and such via this route--and if it's a "report" not a
> critique, it doesn't hurt much.
regular music criticism. J.D. Considine handled this by being especially
snide in his old Short Takes column in Musician (where he famously reviewed
GTR's album as "SHT"); he's an extreme (and Chuck Eddy's "do not take
anything I say seriously" take is another) but hardly atypical example of
A while back on the flufflist, an article was posted about the variance of
opinions on the film Punch Drunk Love by critics and patrons. Critics
loved the film, gave it rave reviews and many paying customers absolutely
loathed it. Critics passed off the customers' negative reaction as (much
as the Chicago round table did) refusing to be challenged. The comments by
the customers, however, told a different story. They didn't mind being
challenged, but the critics had failed to convey what the film was like,
other than to call it "refreshing" or "challenging" or just plain
"different" and giving it a positive review on that basis. So I'm
wondering if one must review 100 films or movies or books every year if the
need to experience something outside of the norm puts blinders on many
critics and make them unable to convey much of value to their readers. In
short (ha!), I agree with the panel that there are very few music critics
worth reading. Part of the problem, hoewver, is due to a problem of
communication between reader and writer that the panel either doesn't see
or doesn't value.
Now that I've said that, I'll post my snobby list of my favorite records of
2002. Y'all are welcome to pick 'em apart or post lists of your own.
I've been having a lot of arguments with other writers about this-
interesting split that half the people think that these guys are full of
themselves (and full of shit) while the other half think they're fine
with what they're saying (with some exceptions).
I'm leaning toward the former view (they're full of it), especially
where they're asked "Does working in Chicago affect your writing?" and
suddenly, their ugly sides come out. Even as a New York writer, I'm
fine with admitting that Derogatis is right about a cultural writing
elite here: I saw that in full force at a recent Spin/Blender
battle-of-the-bands and it made me want to vomit. I think it's the same
to some extent everywhere though (more in NY though since many major
mags are HQ'd here) and the panel goes on to prove it by touting their
own Chicago clique.
I think that Chicago has a really interesting, thriving music scene (for
a long time now actually) and they have a right to blow their own
trumpet about it. My only problem is when they try to parade around
like they're the best thing going- that's what they seem to be accusing
Also, when they slam Jon Parales at the NY Times for not being a real NY
writer, Derogatis and Kot fail to mention that a lot of what they cover
is not Chicago music. Like Parales, they cover new releases and acts
that happen to be rolling into town. Peter at the Chicago Reader does
cover more local stuff but so do less national papers in NY.
It's a shame because the rest of the time that they're talking there,
they come across are the serious, committed writers that they are. I
love Jim and respect Greg but I hope they get over themselves soon.
I'd be really interested to hear what other people think of that
Perfect Sound Forever
online music magazine with warped perspectives
- --- In fearnwhiskey@y..., Perfect Sound Forever <perfect-sound@f...>
> I'd be really interested to hear what other people think of thatHmm. I think it would have been nice if they expanded a bit on
> round-table article.
something they barely touched upon--the fact that it's not a critic's
job to just report what happened at a show. It's their job to give
their *opinion* of it. I mean, 95% of the angry letters critics get
are along the useless lines "How can you say (insert band here) suck?
They're great! You're full of sh*t!". I just bang my head on the
table every time I read one of these. Hopefully the critic's opinion
is worth printing because it's informed by a deeper knowledge of music
than the average reader has. And after a while of reading any given
critic, you get a sense of what he/she likes vs what you like and
gauge the opinion accordingly.
I liked the fact that they brought up the notion that the restaurant
reviewer doesn't have to review McDonald's, even though the music
critic is expected to review that dump's audio equivalent. I also
agree with you, Jason, that the unwarranted and cheap attacks on NYC
writers and the town in general weakened the argument considerably.
And maybe I missed it, but they didn't really address the magazine
writer's initial assertion that music writers, in general, aren't very
good *writers*. I just snagged the power pop issue of Magnet, and a
have to say that a more comprehensive collection of tortured
metaphors, clumsy sentence construction, and cliche masquerading as
wit would be hard to find outside of a high school newspaper. I mean,
here's a slick mag with tons of ads, and I know more than a few good
underemployed writers. How could this happen? (Seeing rockcrit's
most egregious example of the Peter Principle, Fred Mills, in the
masthead gives me a clue, though.)
But I digress. I was most impressed with DeRogatis' remarks about
writing his reviews for a kid with $20 in his pocket. To me, the
ability to make that kid want to run out and buy a CD after reading a
review, convinced that the disc is going to kick his ass, is the mark
of a really good critic.